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A Letter From Professor Winchell

A Letter From Professor Winchell image
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V e present below a letter from Prof. "VVinchell, of Ann Arbor, giving a graphte descrío, tion of the recent attack on thesteamer Empress on the Mistissippfc Prof. Winchell arrivedat Ann Arbor on the lGth from the Lower Missisóppii-baving been a passenger on the Empresa. We have givej) an account oi this attack beforc, but Prof. Wjnchelll gives more of the minutas and details of the atfair than have yet appearad in print :- Detroit Ad cf Tribune. Ann Arkou, August 16, 1804. You havo hèard of the guerriflas. I liavo seen them. Sliall I undertake to teil you how a man leels when on the pointof becomin their prey? On the lüth instant I was traveling up the Missistsippi on the steamer Empress. 1 was sitting in my room, eatiug a bit of a watermeloii when I heard a suf den crash like the falliSg of a heary box, in the bow of the bout. At the next breath were half a .lozen similar .sounds, and I then saw pOf)Je ruiming through the cabio utteringa variety of exdamafimis. I saw Gen. McNeil buckling on his sword, running to and fro, and giving orders. Some wcre öh tueif hands imd knées, crawling along the Hoor, and soine vvere lying still and low. It dil not take me long to decide what kind of a scrajic we had got into. Of course, liaving no comuiand or respousibility except for mj - self, I lay down too- hum bly- flat on the Üoor- only I took care to lie eudwise toward the danger, nstead, as all the rest seemed to be doing. Bang! bang! crash! crash! rattle ! rattle ! camc the soumis lt. was Brtülery and n&fttry. At times, when a sfaelJ e.pluded inside the boat, it made the ■vliole structure trcmble. Bang! WJjen wonld tlicy stop ! Shall we not soon be past Uiis danger 1 Alas, no- the shots strike tliickcr and faster. ïhe cabin is full of splinters. This is a dangerous place. And yet we are only jüst opposiie the battery. Hark ! the whistle blows ! The boat is going to huid. ïhe bell rings. We are sinking, or burning or, what is vvorse and more likely, we havo surrendered. Here is room for unpleasant reñections. No, the flring does not cease ; and the engine works again. Thank Gd-! it works more vigorousJy than it did a moment ago. But the projectiles strike us hke luül. The bulletspop through heie like beetles through my study on a sultry summer cvening. Can't I get asafer place ? The woinen are huddled together - soine feinting and sume screaming - though others are behaving ■ themsehes courageously. Crash ! goes a shell through the whole length of the cabin. Let me find a safer place The flring is now in the rear. I go into the kitchen. - Here is the range - and hero is the wheel house. Better protection than nothing. - Pop ! poii ! come the solid balls. Bang ! go the hhells as they explode inside the boat. Therc is no time to consider. I compose mySelf in the dirt upon the kitchen iioor. The good boat keeps up some headway - though slow. We are past the battery. Whirr ! whirr! 1 havo hcard doscriptions of that .sound from our brave soldier, but never before had the pleasure of hearing the sounJ. It repeatsitself every half second whir-r-r! right along side of where I am now standing. Wbir-ï-r ! another strikes in the water. And another. Now a sliell explodes in the air and the water leaps i:p in half a dozen jets. We must be getting out of range, thank God. And there is tlie smuk e of a gunboat steaming down to meet us. Our steam is out. Our boiler is disabled. We are scarely moving. We are falling behind. ïlie current will carry us in a few minutes directly into the jaws of that battery aeain. Yes, it isa gunboat, and not a black t% The unoffending will have an avenger. Bat how slow she comes. Bang! woir-r-r! The battery again ; No. It is the gunboat sending a projeetile pust us down the river. Bang, bang, again, and again. The -omen are sercaming again one or two of them I mean. ïheycannotbe convinced that it is ourdogs barking now. The fruuboat has rounded under our stern and the bouin of her guns comes in our cabin wiudows. The woinen actually feel the concussion and think they are hit. But the danger is lïCrvr past. We are tied fast to the gunboat andtowed to the opposite bank. The next instinct is to know who is hurt. Ilero is a boy with an immense gash in his WroK-:u. made apparently by a nmsket ball or.tüe iragment ut a shell- and also a bad bruiso on Lis arm. Next, I see a Lieutenant perforated through the chest and botli arras by a six-ppurid ball lic bad laid down beliind a pile of trunksand express boxes. ïlie fatal projectile, aft er passing throngh tlic smoke-pipe and express boxes, found its vic tim just at the moment when lic was raising his liead to look out at the battery. Here is a civiiian with a ball through his" arm close to the shouldcr. The liumms is shattered and the woundyawns two inches wide. ïhe next sight that met my eyes was a dead soldiertop of his liead all blown oif. A fine middleaged gentleman from ?ew Orleans was lying by his side, and this gentleman's liead. face and breast are completely smeared with gore and brains, and his wholc side is saturated by the puddle of blood in wbich he bas been lying-. He is truly a ghastly sight, and may well be pardoned for thinking himself mortaliy woandcd. Here were a couple of young soldiere with rifle balls through their backs. Here is another soldier with his forearm shattered and his hand hanging only by some bits of skin. He is moaning with pain. Behind the pantry we found stiü another soldier, with the top of his head taken oil'. T Ii is projectile passed diagonally through from the state rooms, one bedstead, one trunk, one table and the pantry, before reaching its victim. On the upper deck lies the captain of the boat, with his head neatly cut Off. He had just stepped from his room of the texas, and looked around the corner from the starboard sido, when a ten pound shell cr'ashed through the corner of the texas, and snapping olf' the rod to which the Captain was holding, sovered his head from his body, dashing his brains all about for the distance of 30 feet, and leaving no fragments of the skull to be found over half an inch square. On the lower deck is the pastry cook, lying dead - his bowels torn out by the first projectile, and his leg shattered by a subsequent one. And here is a deck hand with a terrible wound in front of the shoulder and on the Another soldier lies hero with a ghastlier wound. His right arm is crushed near the shoulder, and the muscles are torn from his ribs. One can almost see his lungs. Poor, brave, Germán volunteer, relurning, a disenarged veteran, to Missouri. Probably nothing can be done forhim. The total numbcr of killed is 5; the number of severely wounded 12, besides several slight bruises and scratches. Wc were tied to the bank near Port Anderson on the Mississippi sido a few miles above Greenville. Here four ol'our dead received a military burial and here, providentially, tlic e.nginecrs were able to repair the injuries to our engines. It secms that early in the engagement the camrod of the larboard engine was boken and while one of the engineei was liidnig for safety, the other coolly eli'ccted repajri and put on all possble steam. Aterwards the supply pipe was cut, and then tlio "doctor's" steam pipe. Each of these accidenta would cut oif the supply of' water from tho boilers and an explosión would soon become imminent, unless the flres were extinguished. It is a wonder that the huge boilers were no where perforatcd - an accident which would have scalded all on th' lower deck. It is evident the boilers and ïnachinei-y were chiefly aimed at as is known br 13 dead mules lying in that rango. For the saivation of the boat andthegreat inajiity oí' tho.-c on board, wc are in.'ebted - Ist to the two pilots - brave men- -who stuck to the wheGl and refused to surreudcr whcn even so naar the battery tbat the dcmaud to do so was easily Leard, and rifle !alls were striking like hail stones around them. 2d. 'Jlie engineer who inserted a new cainrod wliile tlie boat was under fire. 3d. Gen. John McNeil and otter military ofBcers, who compelled the cowardly firemen to come out from their hiding places and keep up the tires. 4th. The gunboat wlio hlped us to the shore wlien onr engines had nearly ceased to work, and the presence of whieh probably preventcd the rebels from renewinc the attack. Putting all the evidence togother, it appears that this battery consisted of threesixpounders, which threw spherical case shot, and two ten-pound Parrot guns or James rifles, which threw Hotcbkisg shells. The small anns were Enfleld rifles. The battery was supported by 2,500 infantry, as subsequently learned. Gaster's Landing, the place of the attack, is 45 miles by water below Napoleon. The number of discbaigei of artillery was 102. The number wliich took effect was per haps 50. The Empresa was under fire for 30 minutes, and ftttSSed within 150 yards of the battery. I need not detail the precáutions adoptedto prevent a surprise and capture wliile j going repairs, nor the apprehension feit that the same battery might move up and renew the attack, nor howgreat wastheprobability that they would doso at the upper end f the ' bend, while we should be passing, after ' ing undergone repairs, nor what profound and dreadful suspense hung over the passengere ! as, with darkened lights, and all steam on, we followed the gallant guuboat ! past the midnight (langer. Ilie telegrapli has given jou themahi lacts oftliis occnrrence, but Cai'ro dispatches are got up at the desks of steamboat clerks, who generalij figure more largely tlian modcsty or fairness demanda. I give you a feature of the sccne as t prescnted itself to all on board. I hope it will throw new üght on the barbarities of rebel warfare. ïhese men were indeed and in fact guerrillas, but they were regulariy coinmissioned Cor.l'ederate forces under command of Marmaduke. What must be the judgment of impartial history on the case which attempts to sustain itself by j cious attempts to kill as many as possible of I women, cliildren and other non-coiubatants ? I feel mueh like the Captain of a company from the lOth Kansas, when coolly told there were two sides to the questUm. " No, sir," said he, there can only be one side to the question where I am present," and the contemptible apologist for wholesale murderseeing action suited to the speech, thought best, in the expressive language of the day, to " dry up." Oh. for more of the spirit, of the lOth


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Michigan Argus